Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (Grade 1)
TEAHUPOO won the day’s near two and half-mile feature race at Fairyhouse last Sunday, beating Klassical Dream by a neck, but, unlike the near deafening roar that comes with the Tahitian wave of the same name, the result was greeted with near silence by the large crowd.
Despite the wind and rain, they had travelled in their thousands to the Co Meath track to see Rachael Blackmore guide the dual Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle to an historic fourth Hatton’s Grace success.
Sadly, however, the 4/11 favourite was beaten for the first time in her 17-race career, finishing two and a half lengths behind the runner-up.
The Robcour-owned Teahupoo, who came into the race with six hurdle wins to his credit, one at Grade 2 level and three at Grade 3, had locked horns with Honeysuckle twice previously.
The five-year-old Masked Marvel gelding finished last of six behind the Sulamani mare in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in April and last of 10 behind her in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham the previous month.
On Sunday, the crowd began to cheer when Honeysuckle went second before the turn-in and they were in full voice as she led over the second last. Soon, however, Blackmore’s mount began to look vulnerable and she couldn’t raise her game when Klassical Dream (5/1) and Teahupoo (20/1) went by her on the outside at the final flight, with the last-named coming out the better of their duel up the run-in to complete a Grade 1 double on the day for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy.
“He was very good last year on soft ground,” said Elliott. “We ran him on good ground a couple of times which was probably a mistake but we are still learning about the horse. Jack gave him a wonderful ride, letting it all happen in front of him.
“Our horse was probably under the radar but I’m delighted for the Achesons (Robcour) who are among a great team of supporters we now have.”
As much as they had publicly revelled in Honeysuckle’s 16 victories, the disappointment was just as visibly etched into the faces of the mare’s connections post race.
Asked what Blackmore had said to him about the race and result, Henry de Bromhead replied: “Rachael is just very disappointed, like all of us, but it’s a horse race and sadly it was going to happen sometime.”